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Christian group asks for right to discriminate against same-sex parents

Christian group asks for right to discriminate against same-sex parents

Adoption agencies are at risk of closure unless they are allowed to show preferential treatment to heterosexual families, an Australian religious pressure group warns.

In a submission to the government in Victoria, the Australian Christian Lobby are looking to introduce a ‘religious exemption’ clause, that would give faith-based agencies the right to choose which couples can and cannot adopt children, according to the beliefs of the agency.

Not only are they hoping for the right to refuse to place a child in the care of same-sex parents, they also intend for birth parents to be able to stipulate whether or not same-sex couples can adopt their child.

‘The intent of faith-based agencies who preference opposite-sex couples for adoption is in good faith and in accordance with their religious principles and the best interests of children,’ the submission says.

‘Failing to protect these freedoms will likely result in faith-based adoption agencies ceasing adoption services and exiting the field. This has occurred in overseas jurisdictions. For example, Catholic Charities in the US had to close its adoption services in Massachusetts. Care in the UK, after a long court battle, is one of several adoption agencies that have been forced to close.’

Same-sex couples in Victoria can foster children, but cannot adopt a child together – no matter how long that child has been in their care.

The review of family law, to be introduced in parliament later this year, could also allow same-sex couples to jointly adopt a child conceived through IVF, as well as permitting step-parents to adopt their partner’s child.

Equality Minister Martin Foley has said reform of the state’s adoption laws is long overdue.

When asked if the government would consider the proposal, he said: ‘We will be guided by the advice of the reviewer, the principle of acting in the best interests of the child, and the commitment of this government to remove discrimination against LGBTI people from Victorian laws.’

All submissions are now being examined, with a final report due by May 8 2015.